Thursday, October 3, 2013

The secret to losing weight

I'm so proud of myself for how far I've come. After having gained the "freshman 15" and another 5-10 lbs on top of that in the years that followed, I've put to use the secret of losing weight.

Want to know what it is? You're not going to be super impressed. It's not a cleanse, or a fad diet. I never starved myself or purged with laxatives. I never even stepped on a scale all summer because I was afraid of being obsessed with my progress.

The secret is a lifestyle diet and exercise. I called it a "lifestyle" diet because I HATE the word "diet". When I was a kid, the word diet was used to describe the types of foods that animals ate to live. For human beings, the word diet has become just the opposite: it's all the food you either do or don't eat, that is so far from our naturally required foods.

Let me explain and then I'll tell you how I got myself back to a healthy weight and body composition.

Here's an example:
The diet of the black bear: berries, fruits, insects, plants, fish, and sometimes small rodents
The diet of the gardner snake: small rodents, frog eggs, slugs, worms, amphibians, lizards
The diet of North American humans (what it should be): plants, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, birds/poultry, other mammals such as elk, deer, cow, bison.
The diet of humans (what it actually is in North America): maltodextrin, canola and/or corn and/or soybean oil, corn syrup, preservatives, caramel colour, artificial flavour, natural flavour (WTF??)

That last list is what is found in Cheez Whiz and in pretty much anything packaged on the shelves of your grocery store. There isn't even cheese in Cheez Whiz. Just some whey and "milk ingredients". I remember eating that stuff as a kid, putting it on celery and on crackers.

I also remember packing Fruit Gushers for school. Want to know what's in them? Pears from concentrate, sugar, dried corn syrup, corn syrup, modified corn starch, fructose, grape juice from concentrate, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, maltodextrin, cottonseed oil, carrageenan, citric acid, glycerin, monoglycerides, sodium citrate, malic acid, ascorbic acid, natural flavor, potassium citrate, agar-agar, Red 40, xanthan gum.

You can bet that no self-respecting bear would ever eat "Red #40" And yet this is what we feed our growing children.

The reason we're all gaining those pounds is that we're eating something that's not even real food. Processed foods shouldn't even be called food. They're addictive and destructive substances and just like the music industry is exploiting Miley Cyrus, the FDA, government subsidies and companies like Kraft and Betty Crocker are exploiting your taste buds by making you addicted to this garbage.

The police want drugs off the streets?! What about getting processed foods out of our stores! The biggest addiction out there isn't to a street drug, it's to processed foods, and the result of this nationwide addiction has left our health care system crumbling over the costs of obesity and all of it's consequences.

What I did to lose my 25 lbs in a slow and controlled manner (meaning, over several months to a year): I went 80% paleo - sticking to as natural of foods as possible, and giving myself the treat of gluten-free bread occasionally, or using baking soda to make gluten-free/dairy-free zucchini and carrot muffins. I put almond milk in my coffee, which has xantham gum in it, but you won't find canola oil or corn syrup in there.

And most importantly: exercise. I found the secret to making my body strong and building muscle without bulking: throughout the week I alternate yoga, weight aerobics/weight lifting, and my cardio (running). Mixing it up throughout the week allows me to increase my endurance but also my strength.

So the real secret to anyone wanting to lose the extra weight and to get strong again is simple:
  1. Stay away from processed foods and eat a more natural diet focusing on vegetables and limiting your grains. Grains help you keep on the weight. And don't forget your healthy fats like coconut, walnut, avocado and fish - they'll support your body's tissues - NOT cause you to gain more fat.
  2. Exercise: a good combination of cardio, weights and balance (with flexibility as a bonus!)
  3. Give yourself some days to rest and work on your ability to manage and adapt to stress. 
I'm living proof that it works. Don't expect Dumbledore to appear on your doorstep, wave a wand and give you a healthy body by magic. This takes dedication and will-power - the power to overcome the addiction to garbage foods.

Your metabolism doesn't rule you. You rule your metabolism. Eat a protein-rich breakfast every morning and exercise regularly (4-5x/week) and you will begin to gain control over your body. And most importantly, don't starve yourself! If you start calorie-counting and depriving yourself of food, your body will go into starvation mode and you will hang onto every ounce of fat as a protective mechanism.